Just as much of a 90s throwback as its predecessor, Venom: Let There Be Carnage presents like an out-of-time Summer blockbuster; a Spawn adjacent till-ringer that, similarly, interprets the glistening musculature of these comic book anti-heroes as a knotted web of computer generated effects. Let There Be Carnage is the kind of film that used to come to market pre-packaged - for maximum teenage brain-share - with a soundtrack CD that boasted of music not just from the motion picture, but inspired by it as well. Something of a lost art in this day and age. That's not to say Sony hasn't made any effort with the musical suite of their Marvel spin-off - this sequel's credits are packed with undercooked genre fusions that grimly intone our hero's name, as if summoning the oily symbiote back to the screen for a brain-gnashing encore.
Director Andy Serkis, who most recently delivered a Netflix adaptation of The Jungle Book - entitled Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle - that skewed far closer to Rudyard Kipling's poems and short stories than any of Disney's efforts, keeps this sequel refreshingly brief. Where other superhero tentpoles dare to reckon with biblical runtimes, Let There Be Carnage wraps up in under a hundred minutes. In an inspired twist on the usual identity splitting, Kelly Marcel's screenplay is constructed with the bashful mechanics of a romantic comedy. Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock and the eponymous sludge monster he has bonded with fall out then back into love, the latter even experimenting with a series of short-lived trysts that (repeatedly) fail to bring the creature comfort. Although not as gruesome as the title suggests - Woody Harrelson's alien costume preferring to generate sinewy whips over the scythes and axe heads seen on paper - Let There Be Carnage does still feature subsurface scattered tentacles forcing themselves down victim's throats. A note of bloodless violence that, as with the film's prequel, sharply recalls the more sordid aspects of Japanese animation.